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Stars’ Honka joins Finnish team with NHL opt-out clause

Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche visit Sidney Crosby and the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday Night Hockey. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Julius Honka has joined fellow unsigned restricted free agent Jesse Puljujarvi in Finland as he awaits a trade from the Dallas Stars.

The 23-year-old Honka, who requested a trade last month, has signed with Liiga’s JYP Jyväskylä, the club he where he played youth hockey, on a deal that includes an NHL opt-out clause. Like Puljujarvi, who’s currently with Oulun Karpat, the blue liner has until Dec. 1 to sign with a team before he’s ineligible to play in the NHL this season. Once he plays a game in Finland, he will require waivers if he signs an offer sheet. If he’s traded and then signs, waivers is not required.

The 14th overall pick in 2014, Honka has had a difficult first three seasons in the NHL. He’s played only 87 games with the Stars and saw average his ice time hit 13 minutes in each of the last two seasons. He was a regular healthy scratch last season.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said in September that a trade request had been made and that he has been speaking with other teams. He also acknowledged that both sides are at fault for the lack of Honka’s development at the NHL level.
“Did we handle him right at times? Yes or no, we don’t know. And it’s on the player, too,” Nill said. “You get an opportunity, you’ve got to grab it. Sometimes, things don’t work out. There’s different personalities, but that’s sports and that’s life. Some people fit in, some people don’t, and away we go.”

The return Nill is seeking, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, is a second or third-round pick or a young player.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.